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Fresno Homeless ALERT

by Mike Rhodes (editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
Our homeless brothers and sisters are once again under attack by the City of Fresno. This time the attack comes in the form of an ordinance that would make it a crime, punishable for up to 6 months in jail and financial penalties, for camping on any City of Fresno property.
councildistricts.jpg
Here is what you can do to help:

1. Contact your city council member (contact information is below) and ask them to pull Item “O” (that is the letter O, not zero) from the consent calendar, so there can be a discussion about it.
2. Come to the Thursday, December 15 City Council meeting at 8:30 a.m., where this issue will be discussed. City Hall is located at 2600 Fresno St. You can speak for 3 minutes on this issue if you wish - just fill out a request form when you arrive.

The reasons we oppose this ordinance are:

1. City Council member Oliver Baines asked homeless advocates to propose a plan that would establish safe and legal homeless encampments. If this ordinance passes it would be illegal to use City of Fresno property for that purpose.

2. It is wrong to criminalize the poor.

3. Criminalizing the homeless for sleeping does not help them. It makes their situation worse by giving them a criminal record and fining them.

4. The City of Fresno can’t put violators in the Fresno County Jail - it is too full already.

5. The Jones decision in Los Angeles ruled that you can’t arrest homeless people for sleeping if there are not enough shelter beds to accommodate the homeless population. See: http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/crcl/vol42_1/gerry.pdf . There are not enough shelter beds in Fresno for the homeless.

6. This ordinance is an admission of failure and runs contrary to the city’s 10 year plan to end homelessness.

7. While it claims to be revenue neutral, it is unlikely that homeless people will be able to pay for fines and clean up costs if they can’t even afford a place to live.

8. The ordinance says there are campsites in Fresno where the homeless can stay, but it does not say where they are at. We are aware of no such campsites.

The Fresno City Council will introduce this ordinance on Thursday that, if passed, will make it a crime to camp on City of Fresno property. The proposed ordinance is on the City Council agenda, under #O on the consent calendar, which is scheduled to be heard on Thursday, December 15. The consent calendar is near the top of the agenda, so it will be discussed at about 8:30 a.m. in the morning. Here is a link to the City Council agenda:

http://www.fresno.gov/NR/rdonlyres/C92973CC-5C7A-49EF-9FEC-2C75A7608B7B/0/December152011Councilagenda.pdf

This is the link to the proposed camping ordinance:

http://www.fresno.gov/CouncilDocs/agenda12.15.2011/1o.pdf


To contact any Council Member, call (559) 621-8000

Blong Xiong
Councilmember District 1
email: blong.xiong [at] fresno.gov or blongxiong [at] sbcglobal.net

Andreas Borgeas
Councilmember District 2
email: andreas.borgeas [at] fresno.gov

Oliver L. Baines III
Councilmember District 3
email: oliver.baines [at] fresno.gov , oliverb222 [at] gmail.com or District3 [at] fresno.gov

Larry Westerlund
Councilmember District 4
email: larry.westerlund [at] fresno.gov or District4 [at] fresno.gov

Sal Quintero
Councilmember District 5
email: sal.quintero [at] fresno.gov or salquintero [at] att.net

Lee Brand
Councilmember District 6
email: lee.brand [at] fresno.gov or District6 [at] fresno.gov

Clint Olivier
Councilmember District 7
email: District7 [at] fresno.gov or clinton.olivier [at] fresno.gov

An alternative way to contact your City Council Representative is by going to the City of Fresno website http://www.fresno.gov/Government/CityCouncil/Default.htm and filling in the online contact form.
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